Tom and I always stay home on New Year’s Eve. We are comfy staying at home, while savoring a nice dinner or take-out food with a special dessert. Instead of living it up at a restaurant or party, we choose to do it at home, especially since it’s winter. This year I thought it would be nice for Branden to have his friends overnight. After giving it some thought, he decided it was a good idea and the planning began.
The last few years we’ve bought scratch tickets for everyone in our family. Let me explain… A few years ago I was shopping for New Year’s Eve appetizers when I passed a winding line of women at the courtesy desk. Some were my age, others retirement age and then there was a twenty year old. All of us represented each generation and probably celebrated New Years differently. The one thing everyone had in common was their lottery ticket purchases. I stopped out of curiosity, browsing at the various choices. As I watched one happy go lucky woman pocket her stack of “winners”, I envisioned every family member scratching his own ticket to bring in a new promising year. Besides St. Patrick’s day, my thought is that a new year can be lucky and there are many positive possibilities of starting fresh. I bought our tickets and our lucky New Year’s tradition was born. This year Dylan and Lexie won $19. I recall we only won $6 but that’s better then nothing!
The big day rolled around and we were ready. Branden cleaned his room, borrowed our huge television and set up cushions together for bedding. The chips and snacks and a couple of cases of soda (which I only buy on special occasions) filled my kitchen counter. In the late afternoon, the triplets pulled in our driveway. They are nice kids and from a nice family. They are juniors and first met Branden in the Gamesters club at school. The two boys worked on making video games with Branden and they entered their work together in the NH State Technology Student Association conference. Their sister drove them over and was staying for awhile and then was leaving later.
Branden’s group of 8 to 9 friends nicknamed themselves “the squad”. This eclectic bunch of extremely smart kids, are computer know it alls. They meet every few weeks at the movies, at someone’s house and in the parking lot after school. I bet anytime they meet, there’s always young laughter, brilliant collaboration with video games and simple friendships. They all have a good time whatever they do!
During the whoops of joy, I couldn’t help feeling that maybe this was the last time our son would celebrate the new year here. In a few short weeks he will be 18 years old and there will be many more life experiences ahead of him, away from Landaff. He’ll leave with his memories and build a new life elsewhere. Of course I’m excited for him and truly want him to, but a thought lingers that this it. No more midnight toasts of Ginger Ale or special menus he would enjoy. The little tow head boy has emerged into a grown man. No more tucking him in or reading to him on my lap.
The night was still young for the teens, as we old farts went to bed by 9:00, sleepily and content. Loud cheering and laughing seeped under Branden’s bedroom door. For us, it’s not important to count down to a new year anymore. As middle aged adults, it means much more to count our blessings and to be grateful for the wonderful things that took place in 2015. We express our hopeful expectations for the coming year.
For a few years we went to bed and I set the screeching alarm to wake us up at 11:45. Tom and I would go to bed early and awaken to have a midnight toast with our sons. A popped cork flew in the air and champagne bubbled when poured. Ginger Ale sparkled in crystal wine glasses. Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year was booming on the tv screen, while we waited for the flashy ball’s descent. At the stroke of midnight, our family toasted to our unexpected joys, while forgetting whatever hardships had visited us. It was an annual ritual for mom to choke back tears during this occasion. Crying in happiness and joy, I can’t mask my deep emotions well. With all this gratefulness, it’s difficult to not wonder if our life is too good to be true and if the coming year will burst our bubble.
Unlike past years, we slept this year. As life marches on, the important things change. There wasn’t a toast, tears or a hopeful speech and that’s okay! The bubbly was poured into mimosas the following day well before the late hour.
In the early hours of 2016, I woke to brilliant sunlight blazing through our windows. While wrapped in a thick granny like robe, I threw together chocolate chip pancakes,set the table, and did the cooking dishes all before Branden and his friends stirred. They were all conked out, perhaps from staying up until 4. Tom said when he woke up at that time the crew was still talking in hushed tones. They fought sleep as long as they could manage, their eyelids grew heavy and the sandman hung over them until they finally gave in, just as I did with my friends long ago.
After devouring stacks of buttered pancakes dripping with syrup, the kids gathered all their overnight bags and tightly rolled sleeping bags, all the while still laughing. As I stacked the dishes and quietly cleared the table, outside the squad started up their vehicles. Rev, rev, rev…..the same thing they do in the school parking lot. They all stood around talking and laughing heartily while one or two kids sit in their cars and rev the engines.
Piling dishes in the dishwasher , I noticed how the triplets were standing around and one of the boys were staring at their friend’s muffler. One of the boys stooped down under the car. More laughing continued as I really started to wonder what they were all staring at. More crazy laughter. I am a nosy mom so I kept watch from my frosty kitchen window and I tried to figure out what was going on. Finally I opened the door a crack and asked Branden what was under the car.
“Well, nothing to worry about, mom. There’s a few blow horns in Chan’s muffler.” “What?!? ”
When you mix multiple cans of soda, staying up all night and a few paper new year horns, this is the ending result. A finale to their celebration and a priceless memory….when the wild brother of the triplets stuffs the tooters in the car muffler to see what would happen and they get sucked up in.
The next few minutes I was trying to convince my husband to check it out and to make sure they could get those cheap paper horns out of Chan’s muffler. He didn’t think it was a big deal until probably a half hour passed and nothing had changed. When Chan turned his car ignition off, it sucked up the horns, like a forceful vacuum cleaner. Eventually Toms curiosity got the best of him and knowing that he had more knowledge of cars, he grabbed his heavy brown jacket and ventured into the cold.
All the squad was still staring at the car back end, while Tom was looking and laughing too. One teen was stooping down doing something. Tom got an old clothes hanger, bent it to the right shape and they siphoned the blowhorns from the depths of the pipe. Phew! That was a close one! Laughing faded away as the squad jumped in their vehicles. A quiet house rested from the pandemonium of the night before. Our cats slept in earnest, as we cleaned up the soda cans and heaped them in the recycle bin. I smiled and thought what a fantastic memory it was for Branden and us too.
All my Best,
Heart and Soul ❤️